Vodafone seeks $5.5b from Verizon
Vodafone hopes to start receiving an annual dividend of $5.5 billion (€3.7 billion) from its 45% stake in Verizon Wireless from next year.
Vodafone has not received a dividend from its joint venture with Verizon since 2005, when Verizon Wireless started withholding the funds to pay down debt. But the carrier has been pressing Verizon Wireless to resume payouts once the debt is repaid in 2012, and expects $5.5 billion based on Verizon Wireless' estimated $12 billion in free cash flow.
A dividend of this size would increase Vodafone's free cash flow by almost 50%, FT.com notes.
Vodafone and Verizon have been negotiating over the dividend since last year, but have yet to reach a definitive agreement.
CEO Vittorio Colao has hung on to the stake, even though in 2009 he indicated that he was considering selling out - possibly to Verizon – and has since arranged sales of Vodafone's minority holdings in companies including Softbank, China Mobile and SFR.
The thawing relations between Vodafone and Verizon has led to renewed speculation that the two may pursue a “mega merger,” although obstacles including Vodafone's debt burden may make this unlikely.